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where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.

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Monday, 30 October 2017

The Red Men | Matthew de Abaitua | Review

*Image and book provided via NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

In the near future the company, Monad, has revolutionized AI to the point where some people believe it came from the future. Nelson just wants to be a good family man and provide for his family and help his friend get a job to do the same. Unfortunately he gets caught up in a war, not just between the rival companies Monad and Dyad, but also between the AIs called Red Men and their real life counterparts. 

Review:

This was an interesting book. It felt like it was modeled after a 70's drug-trip dystopian movie. It goes back and forth between Nelson's perspective and his friend Raymond's with a couple other minor characters as well. I greatly appreciated Nelson's everyman perspective. He is genuinely a good person who wants to do the right thing, but wants to put his family's well being above all. I kinda wish we could've gotten to see the world from the perspective of a Dr. Easy robot. We got a monologue from the main AI, but I the things that the Dr. robots have to go through would have been really interesting. 

It took longer to read than I expected, and I felt frustrated with that at a few points, bored at others, but the ending was really worth it. I finished the book feeling like I had spent my time well. There were a few time jumps that I had a little trouble following, but overall the story was well paced with the occasional needed humor, there was just a lot of story. And this is the edition that had some stuff removed!

If you like corporate dystopia books or drug-trip books, you'll really enjoy The Red Men. I greatly appreciated the philosophical/ethical discourse about those who conquer, those who fight and those who remain quiet. I kinda wish this wasn't such a book for our times, but it's got some good messages for the world today. 

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Riot Days | Maria Alyokhina | Guest Review


Activist and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina writes a vivid and passionate account of her arrest, trial and imprisonment in a penal colony in the Russian Urals.

In 2012, in response to electoral fraud and the inevitable re-election of Putin, the band Pussy Riot staged a performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Maria and two fellow band members were later charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”. In reality, they had been trying to claim religion back from the claws of government.

Personal elements are kept to a minimum throughout Riot Days. In fact, the writing moves at such a pace that you don’t have time to get to know many of those around the activist. Peppered with references to a troupe of Russian protesters and dissidents who have inspired her, this is not a story of the individual, but a reminder to constantly fight for our freedom and history. Once injustice is normalised, atrocities no longer shocking, our lives are no longer our own. As Maria says to a guard asking her to end one of her many hunger strikes, “I protest wherever I can, wherever I need to. That’s my nature. I need to protest.”

From the absurdities of her trial, in which Maria and her fellow band member are placed in cages, to the horrifying conditions in prison, where sanitary towels are stuffed into gaps in the windows in an attempt to block out the bitter cold, this is a harrowing picture of human rights abuses in Russia. Towards the end of Maria’s book, she recounts a conversation with one of the friendlier guards in the colony. Irina Vasilievna, who has worked there for 40 years, exposes the reality that, “Nothing has changed. Look around you. Does it look like anything ever changes in this country?”

This lies at the heart of Riot Days, an urgent warning against the stasis not just gripping Russia, but waiting to creep in if we are not vigilant enough to stop it. This an important read at a time when Western headlines on Brexit and Trump are eclipsing stories around regimes giving less and less in the way of democracy.

This post was written by guest blogger Lucy.

Review copy from NetGalley, cover image from goodreads.com.
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Friday, 27 October 2017

Features | Who's the Scariest Villain of Them All?


It is a time honoured tradition from children's books, through middle grade, and right up to YA, to give readers a villain so scary it causes actual nightmares. With Halloween fast approaching I thought it was time to pit a few of my personal favourite villains against each other and figure out, once and for all, who is the scariest villain terrorising us all through the written word.

Who is going to be the triumphant antagonist? Well, that's up to you. Read my run down of five terrifying contenders and then cast your vote using the handy little poll at the bottom of this post. Let's figure out which villain is really the stuff of nightmares.

1. Lord Voldemort - J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series

A man so terrifying people quite literally dare not speak his name, a man so evil he would kill a one year old baby to achieve his ends, a man so determined to bend the wizarding world to his own will that he cheated death and willingly got about looking like an evil snake for years. Lord Voldemort is a strong first contender.

2. The Witches - Roald Dahl's The Witches

With wigs and gloves to help them hide in plain sight, Roald Dahl's witches have been scaring generations of children since 1983. The Grand High Witch's dastardly plan to turn all the children in the world into mice and her fellow witches being more than willing to go along with this plan mean that these witches have definitely earned their place in this competition.

3. Count Olaf - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Speaking of disguises and of attacking orphans, Count Olaf might just have the previous two contenders beat. An expert at evading detection from the unobservant adults in the Baudelaire's lives, Count Olaf will use any method he can to hound those poor children from home to home in pursuit of their fortune and that kind of concentrated dedication is enough to strike fear into anyone.

4. The Wights - Ransom Riggs's Peculiar Children series

Another villain brought about by the desire for immortality, the Wights' slightly less evolved brethren, the Hollowgast, might seem like the scarier of the two, but a Wight is merely a Hollowgast who has consumed the souls of enough Peculiar people, and no one else in this competition makes a habit of eating children's souls. So that's something to consider.

5. Jadis the White Witch - C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

And the final contender for scariest villain of all, Jadis the White Witch. She plummeted Narnia into one hundred years of winter without Christmas and in my book that alone is enough to earn her the title of the most evil witch around. There is also the small fact that she bribed Edmund to deliver his sibling to her so that she could continue her reign unchallenged, but you know, winter really does get old fast.

So cast your votes below and let's settle this! Which of our contenders strikes the most fear into your heart? Who is the scariest villain of them all?


Who's the scariest villain?

Lord Voldemort
Roald Dahl's Witches
Count Olaf
The Wights
Jadis the White Witch
Survey Maker
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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Happy 5th Birthday Blogger’s Bookshelf (+ giveaway)


Five years ago, back in 2012, our little community book blog launched out into the Internet.

For us, those five years have gone in a flash. Not only have we accumulated nearly 900 posts, there are over 800 of you lovely lot following us on BlogLovin and over 750 of you on Twitter! We’ve covered almost everything under the sun from the hottest Young Adult novels to some fantastic classics, bone-chilling horror to heartwarming romance to the most far-flung fantasy.

Whilst we’ve evolved and changed in many ways, incorporating features, interviewing authors, and covering bookish events, we’ve also tried to ensure we keep true to line on our About Us page.

“Blogger's Bookshelf was born out of a collective love of literature.” 

We are first and foremost book lovers here at Blogger’s Bookshelf and we hope to share five more years (and beyond) of that love of books. To celebrate this landmark age we have a special giveaway to say thank you for reading and supporting us for five years...with a fun little challenge twist! Check out the rules below.

Rules: 
  • Find our FIVE Birthday presents hidden in some of our old review posts on the blog.
  • To give you a helping hand we'll be posting the five clues plus a quote from the book on Twitter from tomorrow 27th October to the 31st October and a quick clue round-up at the end of the week, so keep a weather eye out if you're stuck!
  • Once you've found them all, pop the book titles into the Rafflecopter below to be entered into our 5th Birthday Bundle Prize Draw, including:
    • A signed copy of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
    • A mystery book from our upcoming Team BB Book Club (more exciting news about this to come!)
    • A £5 Amazon Book Voucher
    • & much more...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until midnight on the Friday 10th November to enter, winners will be announced on Saturday 11th November.

We want to thank you again for supporting us for the last five years. Here's to many more years to come!

Best wishes,

Team Blogger's Bookshelf


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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Rivals of Dracula | Nick Rennison | Review


With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve noticed a definite spooky turn in my reading habits. I’ve been revelling in unsettling and creepy reads. Amongst my recent reads was The Rivals of Dracula, a collection of short stories edited and introduced by Nick Rennison. I love Dracula and even did a lot of academic writing about it, back in the day. However, my research really highlighted how much Dracula has overshadowed other vampire literature of the time so when I saw this collection, I immediately bought it. Unfortunately, it then fell towards the back of my TBR for a long time. I finally got around to reading it on a recent holiday and am happy to be able to share it with you guys!
As I mentioned, this collection shares short stories about vampires from the Late Victorian and Edwardian eras. Some of the authors are somewhat well known, while others were completely new to me. What they all had in common was that were incredibly interesting and utterly creepy.

Because the collection is centred around a very specific theme, I did find that I couldn’t read too many at once or else I didn’t appreciate them. However, when I took the time to enjoy them at a slightly slower pace, I realised just how brilliantly varied the stories are. There is very little uniformity to the vampires in this collection, which was fascinating.

Though I loved the collection as a whole, I did have some stand out favourites. I loved Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley, which features an utterly creepy creature which is accidentally set free. I don’t want to say too much more, but it was chilling to read. Other favourites include Ken’s Mystery by Julian Hawthorne (a wonderfully unnerving tale set in part in Ireland), The Mask by Richard Marsh (truly haunting story about deceit and deception) and Medusa by Phil Robinson (a creepy story about a woman who seems to feed on her victims).

If you loved Dracula and want some more vampire stories in your life, you should check out The Rivals of Dracula - just try not to read it just before bed!
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Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Vegan Cookbook: 100 Plant-Based Recipes to Inspire and Invigorate | Adele McConnell | Review


*Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

The Vegan Cookbook is a new release from Adele McConnell who is used to seeing people all over the world recreate her recipes thanks to her successful blog Vegie Head.

Through sharing her recipes McConnell wants to show readers that plant-based eating doesn’t have to be bland or boring, highlighting the huge variety of foods to be enjoyed. As well as sharing recipes she talks about her own personal journey, reasons for following a plant-based diet and the benefits. Suggestions are included for those who may be looking to make the switch themselves, including tips such as taking a step-by-step approach to ease into the new lifestyle and advice on store cupboard staples.

One of my favourite things about the book was how clearly allergens are labelled for each recipe using a simple colour-coded key, making it quick and easy to find recipes to suit different types of vegan diet. The layout of the recipes is easy to follow and colourful photographs showcase many of the finished dishes well, although unfortunately not every recipe is pictured.

Whilst a lot of the savoury recipes look delicious, I have to confess I’m most keen to try out the Raw Chocolate Torte with Salted Pecan Sauce – what's not to love?
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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Lettering With Purpose | Brittany Luiz | Review


*Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

Lettering With Purpose is a brand new release from professional lettering artist and instructor Brittany Luiz, designed to teach readers how to get started with lettering and encourage them to create their own beautiful artwork.

The book takes you through all of the basics from tools and materials to compositions, different styles and even how to digitize your work using Photoshop. Once you have the basics mastered the book also shows you how to build upon these skills with tips on how to develop your own personal lettering styles using flourishes, frames and other extras. As well as basics and advice there are several full alphabet examples included which showcase different styles of lettering to help you practise and encourage you to develop your own personal style.

When you feel ready to put your new lettering skills to the test the book has some great art print project ideas using various techniques and materials such as watercolour paints and chalkboard pens. At the back of the book is the author’s favourite section, a set of 100 creative prompts complete with space to practise each one, plus a list of tips to help you find inspiration for your designs going forward.

Overall I think Lettering With Purpose is a great book for beginners, covering all of the basics needed to get you started with this art form and providing inspiration to encourage readers to create their own unique lettering styles and designs. I have my new brush pens at the ready and am looking forward to trying out all of the tips and tricks included in the book!
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Monday, 16 October 2017

The Twisted Ones | Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed Wrisley | Review


Summary:

It's been a little over a year since the events of the first book. Charlie is in college, studying engineering, and is trying to correct her father's legacy. Officer Clay shows up to ask her some questions. Apparently there's been a murder. The wounds on the body look exactly the same as the scars left by a spring lock suit. Someone, or something, is out for blood.

Review:

I said in my review of The Silver Eyes that I was buying this book because the first one was such a fun read. This sequel does not disappoint. 

This book reads so much like a 1980's B horror movie sequel. There were some scenes that I'm sure were meant to be scary but I just ended up chuckling. While the first book was conservative in its killing and scope, this one just goes over-the-top. It even scales up the scientific and paranormal aspects of the animatronics. The villain himself is so absurd that he wasn't scary at all. Just like what happens in the sequels to B horror movies! 

I'll give Cawthon and Breed-Wrisley full credit for the occasional cleverness the characters come up with. Unfortunately, while the last book had a great creepiness factor going for it, this book did not. There were no creepy scenes to help balance out the nonsensical attempts at scariness. Seriously, the scene where Charlie and John watch a zombie movie and she keeps thinking about all the things the movie got wrong was a great metaphor for the book. You don't read it for the logic, just the silliness. 

In all, I'm still glad I bought the book and that I read it in October. The authors left it open for a third book and I'm kinda hoping they follow through. If you don't take it too seriously, you'll have a fun time! 


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Friday, 13 October 2017

Features | A Halloween TBR


I've never really been very big on Halloween (I do not like being scared) but I never say no to seasonal reading and even I, a notorious hater of fear in any form, enjoy having my spine tingled by a chilling story every now and then. So, here are three books I'll be reading this month to get into the spooky Halloween spirit.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
When Erin reviewed There's Someone Inside Your House recently she described it as 'a teen slasher movie in novel form'. Honestly, I am not a fan of teen slasher movies. Blood and gore? Not my thing. So why is this number one on my Halloween themed reading list? Well, Stephanie Perkins's other books (Anna and the French Kiss etc.) are among my favourite novels so I trust her to write something I'll enjoy, and I figure since this is a novel and not a movie, the gore can't be quite so graphic... right?

Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she's desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.
Black Cairn Point sounds suitably spooky and atmospheric with its rural Scottish setting and supernatural twist. It's one I've been meaning to read for a couple of years now and this is the year I'm finally going to get up the guts to do it! I don't think I have too much to worry about anyway. I'm already not overly fond of camping so what's it going to make me scared of? Malevolent spirits? Way ahead of you, book. Erin reviewed this one too, back in 2015, if you want to know more about it.

Do you know what lived in the ancient forests, before we walked the earth? Do you know of the giants and cannibals who came before us? Do you know the origins of the first ymbryne? These are the stories that came long before us peculiars, and that will outlive us all.
Promising tales of cannibals, ghosts, and fork-tongued princesses, Tales of the Peculiar sounds set to be every bit as strange and unsettling as the series it is companion to. If the Wights and Hollowgast of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children are anything to go by, I'm sure these short stories from the peculiar world will have plenty of chilling characters to creep me right out and keep me up way past my bedtime.

So those are the books I'll be giving myself nightmares with in the run up to Halloween. What about you? Do you have any spooky books on your TBR to get you in the spirit for All Hallows' Eve?
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Obelisk | Stephen Baxter | Review


This year, I've been making a real effort to read more sci-fi. What's sparked this? Well I read I, Robot for the first time and really enjoyed it. When I heard about a new collection of short stories and novellas from an acclaimed sci-fi writer, I thought I would see if my new found love of the genre would continue.

Having not read much sci-fi before, I hadn't actually read anything else by Stephen Baxter but a quick google search told me that his work is highly respected in the genre. As such, Obelisk (which is packed full of stories, some of which are linked to his other work while others are entirely new) seemed like it would fill a major gap in my sci-fi education. The content of the book is varied, though each work within it is undoubtedly creative, engaging and packed full of 'what ifs'.

As I mentioned, some of the stories are linked to the worlds that Baxter explores in his other books. I was a little bit nervous that I wouldn't 'get' those ones, having not read any other work from Baxter. I needn't have worried. It was easy to dive into the world and now I am curious about his novels!

Though I enjoyed those stories, my favourites were probably the alternate histories. These imagined what the world would be like if things had gone a little differently. To say they were interesting would be an understatement and they really had me thinking long after I had finished reading them. The topics were varied, clearly well researched and very well handled. Like I said, they were the real highlight of Obelisk for me. In fact the collection seemed to move from strength to strength as I read further in the book.

There is some technical bits in many of the stories too. Even if I couldn't always follow the science, it added an air of authenticity to the narratives that was both intriguing and worrying. Many of the stories are set in the not too distant future and it's a sign of Baxter's talent that some of the situations seemed scarily realistic!

If you're a fan of sci-fi or a little intimidated by the genre, Obelisk is a great place to start.
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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bookish Links #34


1. Library Love - we loved Michelle's recent post all about her new library membership and the reasons we should all join our local library. After reading her follow-up post we now have five more titles to add to our TBRs!

2. Unread Books - we found ourselves nodding along whilst reading Anjali's relatable post on her piles of unread books. How many unread books do you have on your shelves?

3. The Weird & The Wonderful - we loved Nihaad's list of books with wonderfully weird storylines, perfect to pick up if you're looking for a read that will keep you on your toes!

4. Life Lessons - this post from Stylist reflects on the life lessons many of us learnt from growing up with Jacqueline Wilson's novels. Which was your childhood favourite? It looks like Tracy Beaker is currently topping Stylist's poll.

5. Your Book Soulmate - find your next YA read with this quick Buzzfeed quiz!

6. On TBR Posts - we found Ali's post on why she stopped sharing monthly TBRs to be an interesting read. Do you find creating a monthly TBR list useful?

7. Bookish Podcast - if you're looking for something new to listen to on your commute this week check out new podcast The Bookcast Club for some bookish chat!

8. Kids Reads - Lauren has teamed up with Books & Pieces to share top reading picks for kids. Her post also includes a handy discount code perfect for those of us looking to do little early Christmas shopping.

9. Donating Books To Prisons - this post from Book Riot shares how much your unwanted books can help prisoners. Have you ever donated your old books to a prison?

10. Emotional Reads - we loved this post from Lauren Evie prescribing recommended reads based on different emotions, inspired by The Little Paris Bookshop and the power of words.

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!      
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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House | Stephanie Perkins | Review


*Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

"One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted." - Goodreads

Although I haven’t read any of Stephanie Perkins other popular releases as soon as I heard her latest creation was set to be a YA horror novel I decided it was one for my TBR.

There’s Someone Inside Your House is a teen slasher movie in novel form. With all of the classic ingredients from the small town setting, to gory scenes and a group of teens who run towards dangerous situations rather than away from them, the book is a fast-paced tale created for fans of the genre.

Our main character occupying the ‘final girl’ role is Makani Young, a who moved from Hawaii to Nebraska to live with her grandmother following a mysterious incident. We are also introduced to several other characters most notably Makani’s boyfriend Ollie and besties Alex and Darby.

The book strays from the usual horror structure as we don’t have to wait until the very end to find out the identity of the killer, and this element seems to have divided opinions amongst readers. Personally I found this to be an interesting idea and liked that despite the early reveal the killer's actions are not clear until later on, meaning there is still something to keep you guessing.

Whilst I enjoyed the mystery elements of the story There's Someone Inside Your House just wasn’t as scary or full of suspense as I’d hoped, leaving me slightly disappointed. Having said that, the book was an entertaining read overall and made a day of train travel fly by much quicker! I’m sure many readers will love Perkins' take on the teen slasher and am interested to see if she will explore the genre further in her future books.
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Monday, 2 October 2017

The Little Red Wolf | Amelie Flechais | Review

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

In a twist on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, a young wolf cub, who's always wearing his read hood, is sent to his grandmother's to bring her a rabbit to eat. But he has to be careful not to fall in the trap of the evil Huntsman and his daughter.

Review:

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! This was such a beautiful read! While it's not a picture book for every kid (plenty of dark scenes) each page had such brilliant imagery. The color and font choices were so well picked and went along with the story perfectly.  I really want to get a hardcopy of this so that I can get a really good, long look at the artwork. Also, if you think the little wolf on the cover is cute, wait until you see him with his puppy-dog eyes! 

Flechais is an incredibly enchanting storyteller. I wasn't able to be distracted by anything until I had finished the book. I'm almost always a fan of a new twist on an old story and this story is spot on. I absolutely loved the change in dynamic. The characters were even given motivation for their parts in the tale. 

This book might be a bit too scary for toddler aged kids, but from about 5-6 and up, this would be an entertaining book to read to or with your child. My nephew absolutely loves wolves so I'm getting him this for Christmas. 
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